• Curious about veganism or vegetarianism? Why not ask us a question? (You don't have to sign up, or be vegan or vegetarian!)

Literature The British English vs American English thread!

FortyTwo

Custom Title
I was watching Game of Thrones (Season 1), now out on DVD for rental.

While the story is set in a fictional world, the characters appear to be British and appear to speak British English.

The male characters in the series are not addressed as Sir, but as Ser. Can anyone shed any light on this word?
I could not find it in any on-line dictionary, except as an abbreviation for other words like "series" or "sermon."
Hey, a thing I actually know!

It's pretty simple and not that interesting, "ser" is just the archaic version of "sir." Just language progression from the middle ages. "Ser" or "sir" is specifically used for knights.
 

Joe

Celebrity Member
Hey, a thing I actually know!

It's pretty simple and not that interesting, "ser" is just the archaic version of "sir." Just language progression from the middle ages. "Ser" or "sir" is specifically used for knights.
Thank you. I appreciate the information. :)
 

Joe

Celebrity Member
BBC Radio broadcast in May a program about the "Americanization" of British English.

I think it is quite good and germane to this thread. Here is the synopsis:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Americanize!: Why the Americanisation of English Is a Good Thing

Sat 20 May 2017, 10:30

Do words like movie or cookie raise your linguistic hackles? Do you hate to hear someone ask if they can 'get' a coffee or 'reach out' to you? Lexicographer Susie Dent - more usually found in the Dictionary Corner of Channel 4's Countdown - explores the history of how Americanisms have entered British English and argues that maybe we should learn to love these transatlantic imports.

Susie hears from the Queen's English Society about why they feel British English should be protected; We discover that dislike of Americanisms goes back to Dr Johnson and hear from the Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary about some of the surprising words which started life on the other side of the Atlantic; There's another surprise when Susie travels to Stratford upon Avon and discovers that some of the most disliked Americanisms first appeared in Shakespeare's plays; There's an actor's perspective on this when Susie meets Tamsin Greig, who's been appearing in Twelfth Night at the National Theatre; Rock and roll singer, Marty Wilde, remembers teenagers' enthusiasm for all things American in the 1950s and their elders' despair at this assault on the English language.

Susie concludes with an exhortation to all of us to throw off our British linguistic reserve and to Americanize! - if only a little bit. She encourages us to embrace the verve of American vocabulary, and to recognize that many of our American bugbears actually came from Britain in the first place.

Presenter: Susie Dent
Producer: Louise Adamson
Executive Producer: Samir Shah
A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.
 

MadamSarcastra

MadamSarcastra, over & out.
Location
Mid-Michigan
I'm curious about a certain turn of phrase.... I quite enjoy the Reacher novels by Lee Child (he's from the UK), and so many times he's written "last but one".... I know exactly what it means, but I'm accustomed to reading/hearing/saying "second to last".... Any comments? o_O
 

PTree15

Beach bum
Location
Connecticut
alphaDictionary * The 100 Funniest Words in English

I haven't heard of some of these words.:D Mugwump I heard about recently as Boris Johnson said it about Jeremy Corbyn. I heard the word snollygoster in the US election.

Hemidemisemiquaver?o_O
LOL, there were some unfamiliar words for me as well. I love "malarkey, cockamamie and fuddy-duddy...and crapulence, which I'd never heard of. I like the sound of it, haha. :D
 
Location
UK
I'm curious about a certain turn of phrase.... I quite enjoy the Reacher novels by Lee Child (he's from the UK), and so many times he's written "last but one".... I know exactly what it means, but I'm accustomed to reading/hearing/saying "second to last".... Any comments? o_O
Hmm, I don't use that expression, I would say "second to last" as well.
 

Joe

Celebrity Member
I pulled off my shelf a biography of H.L. Mencken that I had not read in years. Part of it discussed his book The American Language, a massive tome that became a best seller and went through multiple editions between WWI and WWII.

I mention it here because the book is not just about American English, but is a study in contrast between American English and British English. Right up our alley/street here.

See: The American Language - Wikipedia

Much if not all of the book is available free on the Bartleby site:

See: Mencken, H.L. 1921. The American Language

For a list of contrasting American words and British words, see:
Chapter 4 of this section.
 

PTree15

Beach bum
Location
Connecticut

Joe

Celebrity Member
This is a question that is not strictly speaking about language but about customs. But I'll post it here anyway.

I was watching one of the episodes of Game of Thrones. There is a scene in which the host of a party/gathering presents his guests with trays on which there are pieces of bread as well as bowls filled with salt. The guests are supposed to dip the bread in the salt and eat it. All these actions together are supposed to signify that the host extends his hospitality and protection to the guests, and that the guests accept these benefits from the host.

Is this a British custom? Or did the writers of Game of Thrones just make it up as a fiction? Can anyone shed any light on this custom, whether it is real or just fiction?
 

Amy SF

Dweller in nature
No, it’s a real custom. It’s most common among the peoples of Eastern Europe. In fact, the following Wikipedia article references its use in Game of Thrones. George RR Martin clearly borrowed it from actual tradition.

Bread and salt - Wikipedia

“Eat Bread and Salt and Speak the Truth” - Russian proverb
 
Last edited:
Top